By the prophets announced...

Author: Mirosław Rucki

Can you point to any known man who would fulfill at least a dozen Biblical prophecies describing the Messiah? Is it by chance that as many as 332 prophesies have been fulfilled in the person of Jesus?

God, in his infinite love, could not remain indifferent to the suffering of mankind who had chosen sin and death. God desired to receive man back, forgiving and repairing all the evil which mankind had ever done. However, how could He enable mankind to get to know Him when the meeting of a sinful man with a holy God inevitably would lead to the death of the man? How could He convince mankind about the road which leads to Him? How could He eliminate imposters - false gods and their preachers?

He did it in an unusual and amazing way: for almost 2000 years He had been implementing His plan, announcing the birth, the passion and the death of Jesus Christ, who was to enable every man to be reconciled with God and to return to Him.

The role of the prophet

In our society it is common to understand that a prophet is someone who predicts the future. However, the biblical prophets had the task, entrusted to them by God, to admonish people dwelling in sin, to call for repentance and conversion, to point to the path of deliverance from sin and to warn of the tragic consequences of disobedience to God. Pointing the way to God, the prophets continually announced the coming of Someone who would enable all to be saved.

The books of the Bible contain hundreds of prophecies that were supposed to help the Jewish people to recognize the true God in Jesus Christ, who became a real human being for our salvation. The opening chapters of the Gospel of Matthew frequently refer to quotes from the various prophets, which have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Many Jews believed in Him precisely because of the fact that no one else had ever fulfilled the image of the Messiah, described by the prophets on God’s command. God had consistently implemented His plan of salvation of mankind, gradually revealing His intentions through His servants - the Jewish prophets. And Jesus fulfilled this plan in such amazing detail that it is simply impossible for it to have happened by chance. The events of the life of Jesus Christ themselves are the evidence that He Himself is the culmination of God’s plan of salvation.

In Him God’s plan is fulfilled, and in Him we have salvation, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

Let us consider for a moment, if anyone else could fulfill at least some of the basic prophecies exactly as Jesus had fulfilled them.

One does not choose family ...

The truth is that the vast majority of people simply are not suited to the role of the Messiah - the Son of God and redeemer - because of their non- Jewish origin. Whether we like it or not, in His plan of salvation God had made exactly such a decision: the Messiah was to be born from among the descendants of Abraham. God called Abraham exactly for this reason - that his son could inherit the messianic promise - to be the father of the nation in which the Messiah would be born. The descendants of Isaac and Jacob had to go through the slavery of Egypt, only to meet with God at Sinai later and to learn about their unique role in the history of salvation. When Moses was about to leave, he clearly announced the coming of a prophet greater than himself: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren” (Deut 18:15). This was the Prophet who was to lead the nation of Israel and all humanity to salvation.

Hence, any prophet, who did not come from the Jewish people, simply was not the messenger of God. God does not acknowledge many false prophets from within Israel itself, and neither does He acknowledge any prophet from outside Israel. So even if someone somewhere in the world had a “grain of truth” in their teaching, this grain would not allow anyone to gain salvation. There is only one road leading to God, and this road is the one coming from the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The subsequent history of Israel brought many more details: it turned out that not every Jew could possibly be the Messiah. The prophets pointed to David, and amongst his sons to Solomon. From among the numerous descendants of Solomon, only Zerubbabel is mentioned as a forefather of the Messiah (Zech 4:7, cf. Matt 1:13). Could anyone choose that Jesus would be born into a family derived directly from Zerubbabel? Or perhaps there are more people fulfilling this prophecy?

We must remember that at the time of the emperor Domitian, in the 80s of the first century A.D., the Romans, out of fear of another Jewish uprising, ordered the capture and murder of the descendants of David. They knew that any member of the family could be hailed as the Messiah and become the leader of an uprising. Problems also affected Jesus’ relatives, the descendants of the Apostle Jude, who „managed churches” (for example, Eusebius of Caesarea talks about it in Church History III,20). Since then, the number of descendants of David from the house of Zerubbabel declined so drastically that the coming of the Messiah in later centuries became very unlikely. This is the reason why many a Jew had to recognize that only Jesus was the true Messiah.

Can one choose the place of birth?

Throughout the whole of Israel, only King Herod (the Edomite established by the Romans) did not know where the Messiah would be born. Therefore, as soon as he heard of the birth of Jesus, he called for rabbis. “They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’” (Matt 2:5-6).

The question about the place of birth of the Messiah is so crucial and clear, that at some point Jewish scholars rejected Jesus only because they were wrong about him. “Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?’ So there was a division among the people over him.” (John 7:41-43). So clearly there is no possibility to recognize a man as the Messiah if he was not born in Bethlehem.

The trouble is that nowadays no Jew can be born in the town of David. It is situated in the Palestinian Authority, on whose land the Jews not only cannot live, but they can not even enter it. Repeatedly Jewish pilgrims visiting the tomb of the great matriarch Rachel in the suburb of Bethlehem were shot and stoned. Many Jews begin to understand that in our times the fulfillment of this prophecy is virtually impossible. They begin to wonder, if there was not born in Bethlehem in the past a Someone who also fulfilled other prophecies, and in this way they come to discover Jesus.

Time and type of death

Of course, any descendant of David from the house of Zerubbabel, who was born in Bethlehem, could imagine that he is the one and only Messiah, through whom Israel and the whole world would receive salvation. Anyone could enter Jerusalem on a donkey, drive out the merchants from the temple, and even receive the gift of healing the sick from God - because after all, God generously bestows gifts upon those who love Him. However, “arranging” to die exactly according to the prophets’ guidelines does not seem at all possible. Holy Scripture announces details such as a lifting up, a piercing of the side, of not breaking the legs, and even drinking vinegar and throwing dice for clothes. Presumably no one normal would ever say that someone could arrange all these things to “fit in” with the prophecies of hundreds of years before.

The books of the Bible contain hundreds of prophecies that were supposed to help the Jewish people to recognize the true God in Jesus Christ, who became a real human being for our salvation.

The book of the prophet Isaiah has been known and read in Israel for thousands of years. In the time of Jesus it was the favorite reading of any group within Judaism, it was often read at services in synagogues (Luke 4:16-17) and during pilgrimages (Acts 8:27-28). It contains troublesome passages speaking of the suffering servant of God, which do not fit in with the human concepts of reign and rule. And it is because no ruler in Israel ever behaved like the Servant of the Lord described in Isaiah, that a significant number of Jews acknowledged that only Jesus with his suffering and death is the fulfillment of the words of the prophet.

Resurrection

“(…) now He commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31). Even if someone managed to fulfill several Messianic prophecies, so far nobody has been able to rise from the dead

Krishna considered himself God, but he was shot accidentally by a hunter and died. Buddha claimed that he knew what happens to man after death, but in the end he fell ill and died, and was not able to tell the people whether the other side is really as he had taught. Mohammed, and Zoroaster, and Lenin, and Bahaul- lah all died, as well as many other preachers of different religions and sciences, but only Jesus was able to conquer death as announced by the prophets (Acts 2:29-34). So not only could He confirm as an eyewitness what happens to man after death, but also as the conqueror of death He was able to give the gift of eternal life to everyone else. “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Rom 6:5).

After the resurrection, Jesus “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27). In Him God’s plan is fulfilled, and in Him we have salvation, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

Let’s not underestimate this opportunity and let’s trust Jesus who gives eternal life for free to all.

previous   |   next Back

Copyright © Wydawnictwo Agape Sp. z o.o. ul. Panny Marii 4, 60-962 Poznań, tel./ fax: 61/ 852 32 82 | tel. 61/ 647 26 86